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Biden administration pushes for lower nicotine level

22 Jun 2022. The Biden administration has stated it will propose a rule to establish a maximum level of nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products, reports CNN.

The revolutionary move would see the amount of nicotine in products sold in the US lowered, a result that public health experts are claiming would be “transformative”. The proposed rule, which was announced as part of the administration’s “unified agenda”, hopes that by reducing the nicotine content in tobacco products, people’s addiction would be reduced, and quitting would be made easier.

"Addiction to nicotine in combusted products is the main driver of sustained use of these products. In fact, more than half of adult cigarette smokers make a serious quit attempt each year (quitting for at least a day), but most do not succeed due to the addictive nature of cigarettes. Such a product standard, if proposed and then finalized after a thorough process, would make those products minimally- or non-addictive," the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement.

Studies have shown that when the nicotine content of cigarettes is reduced, people don't seem to smoke more to compensate for the missing nicotine, reports CNN.

"If you don't have high enough levels of nicotine, it seems that you don't trigger as strong as an addiction," Dr. Rose Marie Robertson, the deputy chief science officer of the American Heart Association, said. "I've had patients in the past who had been addicted to both nicotine and heroin at different times in their lives and one of them said it was much tougher to quit nicotine."

However, experts have said that there is no guarantee the regulations will happen and if they do, they will not happen overnight. In a next step, the FDA will have to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking by May 2023 followed by a period for public comment. According to CNN, experts say that with all of this in place it is “very likely” that tobacco companies would sue to stop the rule.